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article imageReview: You can run but you can’t hide from this week’s releases Special

By Sarah Gopaul     Sep 8, 2017 in Entertainment
This week’s releases include some star-studded high-def action; a couple Netflix favourites; a screwball comedy with a twist; still one of the best genre-bending horror movies; and some intense television.
Band Aid (Blu-ray)
Untitled
Shout Factory
Anna (Zoe Lister-Jones) and Ben (Adam Pally) can’t stop fighting. Advised by their therapist to try and work through their grievances unconventionally, they are reminded of their shared love of music. In a last-ditch effort to save their marriage, they decide to turn all their fights into song, and with the help of their neighbour Dave (Fred Armisen), they start a band.
Every couple fights differently and some really throw down with each other, which can be a problem since a lot can be said in the heat of the moment that is still hurtful when the argument has concluded. Anna and Ben seem to fight all the time and they often say terrible things to each other, which they then try to ignore in order to get back to the everyday of life. They’re both creative people, so turning their fights into songs is actually an ingenious way to deal with their feelings – not to mention the lyrics are quite catchy. Unfortunately, this turns out to be more of a coping mechanism rather than a method of dealing with some of the serious issues in their relationship. Lister-Jones and Pally have excellent chemistry (arguing or not), which is key to making this film work as well as it does.
Special features include: deleted scenes; music video; and outtakes. (Shout Factory)
The Cabin in the Woods (4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray & Digital copy)
Untitled
Lionsgate Home Entertainment
A rambunctious group of five college friends steal away for a weekend of debauchery in an isolated country cabin, only to be attacked by horrific supernatural creatures in a night of endless terror and bloodshed. Sound familiar? Just wait. As the teens begin to exhibit standard horror movie behavior, a group of technicians in a control room are scrutinizing, and sometimes even controlling, every move the terrified kids make. With their efforts continually thwarted by the all-powerful eye in the sky, do they have any chance of escape?
This is a horror picture that draws from every sub-genre. It's scary, funny, gory, monstrous, apocalyptic and mysterious. It pays tribute to a number of influences, from the desolation of Texas Chainsaw Massacre to the woodsy setting of countless slasher flicks to the classic Universal monster to several creatures from the Whedon-verse. Based on past endeavours, the quality of writing produced by Joss Whedon is far from one of the film's surprises. It's witty, contemporary, humorous and knowledgeable of the genre it is bending, which are all traits he brings to every project on which he embarks. In addition, teaming with co-writer/director Drew Goddard, who wrote the final season of Buffy: The Vampire Slayer, is the pairing of two talents that evidently work well together and understand the other's vision.
Special features include: commentary with writer/director Drew Goddard and writer/producer Joss Whedon; “We Are Not Who We Are: Making The Cabin in the Woods”; “An Army of Nightmares: Make-up & Animatronic Effects”; “Primal Terror: Visual Effects”; “The Secret Secret Stash”; WonderCon Q&A; and “It’s Not What You Think: The Cabin in the Woods BonusView™ Mode.” (Lionsgate Home Entertainment)
Chronically Metropolitan (Blu-ray & Digital copy)
Untitled
Universal Pictures Home Entertainment
A year after his disastrous writing debut, young author Fenton Dillane (Shiloh Fernandez) returns to his hometown, New York City, with the hope of winning back the love of his life, Jessie (Ashley Benson), and to make up with his estranged parents. Instead, he finds his father (Chris Noth) embroiled in a scandal involving lobsters and coeds, his mother (Mary-Louise Parker) buying drugs from his best friend (Josh Peck), and Jessie engaged to marry someone else.
Fenton is an emotionally stunted individual. Following in his father’s footsteps, he attempts to fictionalize his life for readers while devastating everyone close to him; then, after running away from their scorn, the prodigal son returns as if nothing happened. He has no comprehension of the havoc he left in his wake and seems to have only been concerned with the poor reviews of his short story. Similarly, the father is selfish to his core and takes no responsibility for tearing his family apart with his extramarital activities. His sister and mother are more likeable, but not the narrative focus. Fenton’s pursuit of Jessie is just further proof he’s his father’s son — an undesirable personality trait he can’t recognize.
Special features include: alternate ending; deleted scenes; and behind-the-scenes featurette. (Universal Pictures Home Entertainment)
Criminal Minds: The Twelfth Season (DVD)
Untitled
ABC Studios
The twelfth season shakes the FBI’s Behavioral Analysis Unit (BAU) to its very core. Unforeseen threats lead to sudden changes on the team, beginning with the addition of Luke Alvez (Adam Rodriguez), whose fugitive tracking skills are put to the test on day one. Emily Prentiss (Paget Brewster) returns from London to take over as the new Unit Chief, joined by Stephen Walker (Damon Gupton), a seasoned profiler in his own right. Back on the case are agents David Rossi (Joe Mantegna), Jennifer “J.J.” Jareau (A.J. Cook), Dr. Spencer Reid (Matthew Gray Gubler), technical analyst Penelope Garcia (Kirsten Vangsness), and Dr. Tara Lewis (Aisha Tyler). As the BAU grows in numbers, their enemies only grow stronger. This new team must learn to work together to stop the killers, psychopaths, masterminds, hackers, abductors and other dangerous perpetrators that await them.
The end of the last season foreshadowed that this season the team would face some of the worst criminals they’d ever put away. While the manhunt for most of the escaped serial killers is conducted off-screen, formerly incarcerated Mr. Scratch begins a game of cat-and-mouse with the team in which they’re the prey. In the meantime, Reid finds himself in the worst possible trouble when he takes on the responsibility of caring for — and potentially curing – his ailing mother. As the BAU tries to help him before it’s too late, they must also handle their daily caseloads of terrifying serial killers that take children, dismember bodies and treat murder as the ultimate conclusion to a good time.
Special features include: commentary on select episodes; deleted and extended scenes; “The Family Unit”; “Director’s Chair”; “Victimology”; “The Prisoner”; “4th Life”; and gag reel. (ABC Studios)
Designated Survivor: The Complete First Season (DVD)
Untitled
ABC Studios
Tom Kirkman (Kiefer Sutherland) is a lower-level cabinet member who is suddenly appointed President of the United States after a catastrophic attack on the U.S. Capitol during the State of the Union. In Season One, Kirkman struggles to keep the country and his own family from falling apart, while navigating the highly-volatile political arena, all while leading the search to find who is responsible for the attack.
A cross between 24 and The West Wing, Kirkman must handle the everyday politics of the White House while also escaping and thwarting various terrorist attacks. Taking out the Capitol was the first big step in a grander plan to gain even more control over one of the world’s superpowers. However, people underestimated Kirkman’s determination to do what’s right, and unite the parties in the face of great tragedy. Moreover, an FBI agent with a hunch refuses to give up her investigation into an alternative motive for the attack. Rather than play into current politics, the series reveals a fictional enemy that infiltrated the deepest areas of the government and beyond.
Special features include: “President Kirkman’s Complete First Speech”; “Designated Survivor Debrief”; and “Secret Service Set Tour.” (ABC Studios)
Hell Up in Harlem (Blu-ray)
Untitled
Olive Films
Recovering from an onslaught of bullets that would have killed a lesser man, Tommy Gibbs (Fred Williamson) is out for revenge against DiAngelo (Gerald Gordon), a sleazy New York District Attorney with mob ties who set up the hit-gone-wrong. Tommy, with the aid of his father, Papa Gibbs (Julius W. Harris) is soon on the mend and putting his Harlem empire back on track. But there’s a catch. Could Tommy’s near-death experience have changed the man who was once called the “Overlord of the Underworld”? Is redemption stronger than temptation?
Williamson reprises his starring role from Black Caesar, along with several other cast members, to tell the story of a gangster who’s lost his taste for violence – but that doesn’t mean he’s about to turn the other cheek. When DiAngelo comes after his family, there’s nothing to stop Tommy from going after him and everyone he knows. In the meantime, a young up-and-comer tries to use their rivalry to gain control of Harlem, which only puts him in Tommy’s sights alongside the crooked D.A. The shoot ’em up Blaxploitation film has all the trademarks of the genre, from well-dressed gangsters to unnecessary sex scenes to an upbeat soundtrack to impossible shootouts. The trailer in the bonus features is filled with so many great one-liners, it’s also worth a watch.
Special features include: commentary by director Larry Cohen, moderated by Steve Mitchell, director of the upcoming documentary King Cohen: The Wild World of Filmmaker Larry Cohen; and trailer. (Olive Films)
Just Shoot Me!: The Complete Series (DVD)
Untitled
Shout Factory
Set in the bustling editorial offices of fashion magazine Blush, the series chronicles the daily grind of the magazine's quirky staff, serving up all the laughter that's fit to print.
The core characters in this series didn’t really change over seven seasons and neither did their personalities. Desperate and blacklisted, Maya asks her father for a job, which he sees as an opportunity to make up for years of inattention. However, shoehorning her idea of serious journalism into a fashion magazine creates growing pains for everyone. Like most shows, the first few seasons are reliably entertaining; however, the humour in the second half of the series is less consistent and a little stale. Annual Christmas episodes lose their flair and Nina’s self-centredness gets old (no pun intended). But there are also some great moments, such as when they accidentally take a hallucinogen on the edge of a print deadline or when Maya dates a guy for his looks after ranting about the advantages of good looks. David Spade was sort of the face of this series, but it was definitely an ensemble effort.
Special features include: select commentaries; “Always In Fashion: A Conversation with Creator Steven Levitan and the Cast”; and the Blush covers gallery. (Shout Factory)
Lowriders (Blu-ray, DVD & Digital copy)
Untitled
Universal Pictures Home Entertainment
Danny (Gabriel Chavarria), a talented young street artist, is caught between the lowrider community inhabited by his old-school father (Demián Bichir) and step-mother (Eva Longoria) and following in the dangerous path of his ex-con brother (Theo Rossi). Danny must decide between his quest for self-expression or following his family’s tradition.
Danny is narrating this story for an unseen audience, explaining his feelings about his family and future as an artist. He is somewhat self-righteous, believing his street art is more authentic than anything that can be found in a gallery. His ego seems to be a reaction to his father’s rejection of his work, determined to prove he can turn his art into a lucrative career. The return of Danny’s brother just widens the rift between him and his father. Rossi is the perfect catalyst for this animosity, fuelling the fire with his character’s own hate for the recovering alcoholic that raised them. The film’s final act is abrasive, but lends itself to the predictable conclusion.
Special features include: “Lowriders: Art, Love and Family”; “Ghost’s Arrival”; and “The Culture of Lowriders.” (Universal Pictures Home Entertainment)
Marvel’s Daredevil: The Complete Second Season (Blu-ray)
Untitled
Marvel Studios & Netflix
With Wilson Fisk (Vincent D’Onofrio) behind bars, Matt Murdock (Charlie Cox) thinks his efforts to bring order to Hell’s Kitchen are succeeding — until chaos reignites with two new arrivals: Frank Castle (Jon Bernthal), a.k.a. The Punisher, an anguished ex-soldier determined to visit bloody, irrevocable “justice” upon his adversaries, and Matt’s volatile old flame Elektra Natchios (Elodie Yung). Meanwhile, a lethal, relentless source of ancient evil continues to amass power. Now, as both the stakes and the body count rise, Matt faces a life-altering choice that forces him to confront what it truly means to be a hero.
When the first season concluded with Fisk going to jail, audiences were left to wonder how Daredevil would occupy his time the following season. Viewers would not be disappointed thanks to the new arrivals. Movie versions of the Punisher have portrayed a more heroic character, but this series shows how complicated an anti-hero he is and how that can conflict with someone like Murdock. In the meantime, Hell’s Kitchen’s blind protector’s past is coming back with a vengeance. Elektra’s return first distracts Murdock from his good deeds, but her elongated stay leads to the alienation of his friends. Her presence also reveals aspects of his past he wasn’t aware of, which coincides with the appearance of The Hand and their assassins.
There are no special features. (Marvel Studios & Netflix)
Marvel’s Jessica Jones: The Complete First Season (Blu-ray)
Untitled
Marvel Studios & Netflix
Haunted by a tragedy that broke her world apart, Jessica Jones (Krysten Ritter) settles in Hell’s Kitchen, New York City, and opens her own detective agency, called Alias Investigations, with the hope of rebuilding her life and keeping the lights on in her apartment. She discovers that the source of her trauma, a mind-controlling sociopath named Kilgrave (David Tennant), has resurfaced, forcing her to use her gifts as a private eye to track him down before he causes more damage to her life or to anyone else.
Jessica Jones is not a traditional superhero. She has atypical strength, but doesn’t seem to have ever gotten the “with great power comes great responsibility” speech. She likes drinking and isn’t opposed to a good fight. She has a bad attitude and doesn’t like to get close to anyone. But she’s also a private eye, taking the usual sleazy jobs to pay the rent and helping prove the innocence of other clients. Kilgrave’s return is the first time she appears vulnerable as he was the only person to truly hurt her. Conversely, Luke Cage’s introduction is memorable but too brief. This season’s ending is nothing if not befitting of Jones’ character. Her next challenge will be to get over her aversion to playing with others in The Defenders.
There are no special features. (Marvel Studios & Netflix)
Mr. Mom [Collector’s Edition] (Blu-ray)
Untitled
Shout Select
While Caroline Butler (Teri Garr) re-enters the workforce and becomes the rising star of her advertising agency, her newly unemployed husband Jack (Michael Keaton) finds himself a new job… as a stay-at-home dad. But if Jack thinks his old career in the automotive industry was tough, he has no idea what’s waiting for him at home: the ins and outs of dropping the kids off at school, soap operas, woobies, babies with chili, a clean-up on aisle seven and a vacuum cleaner named “Jaws.” Not to mention the seedy neighborhood drama.
Stay-at-home dads were not always a common or even acceptable occurrence. Jack gets a lot of slack for not knowing the kids’ routines, how to navigate the supermarket or manage the household chores. Not only does it look like he’s in over his head, he’s initially hesitant to embrace his new role as he’s convinced it’ll be temporary. But Caroline is good at her job, even though her male chauvinist colleagues are slow to realize it, and no one is breaking down Jack’s door with offers. As Jack settles into being a full-time dad, the film features some great moments between him and the kids as well as his wife when she drags the family to a work party. A definitive dramedy, this is an entertaining film that’s subtly challenging the norm.
Special features include: A Look Back at Mr. Mom with producer Lauren Shuler Donner and co-stars Ann Jillian, Miriam Flynn, Frederick Koehler and Taliesin Jaffe; and original theatrical trailer. (Shout Select)
RED (4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray & Digital copy)
Untitled
Lionsgate Home Entertainment
Frank (Bruce Willis) is a former black-ops CIA agent living a quiet life alone...until the day a hit squad shows up to kill him. With his identity compromised, Frank reassembles his old team — Joe (Morgan Freeman), Marvin (John Malkovich) and Victoria (Helen Mirren) — and sets out to prove that they still have a few tricks up their sleeves.
This film is everything you could hope for and more. It is hilariously flawless with a stellar cast that delivers an action comedy of epic proportions. While the action continues to be a principle feature of the film, it’s also about a number of relationships. Frank and his love interest will have the most intriguing “how we met” story; the former operatives are reconnecting after years of silence; and a secret romance unexpectedly becomes one of the more touching bonds in the film. Between the character introductions and explosions, this film never slows down. Another element that ensures the film maintains a good pace is the non-stop comedy. From small chuckles to laugh out loud moments, the movie just keeps them coming. Everyone displays spot on comedic timing and avoids producing a farce by never going over the top. Furthermore, the material itself is independently hilarious and could only be enhanced by such exemplary talent.
Special features include: commentary with retired CIA field officer Robert Baer; and deleted and extended scenes. (Lionsgate Home Entertainment)
RED 2 (4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray & Digital copy)
Untitled
Lionsgate Home Entertainment
Retired black-ops CIA agent Frank Moses (Bruce Willis) reunites his unlikely team of elite operatives for a global quest to track down a missing portable nuclear device. To succeed, they’ll need to survive assassins, terrorists and power-crazed government officials, all eager to get their hands on the superweapon.
It’s difficult for sequels to measure up to great originals and this franchise is no different, but it comes close. The entire cast of top-notch operatives return with the addition of Anthony Hopkins as an insane scientist confused and potentially dangerous. While Frank is settling into a domestic life with Sarah that includes lots of new gadgets for around the house, she’s craving the action that threw them together — and Marvin has just the thing to put the danger back in their relationship. A covert mission from several years ago has resurfaced on the internet and suddenly anyone connected to it is winding up dead. Saving their skins takes the team to Europe, where their fancy accommodations serves as cover and Frank is reacquainted with his “kryptonite” played by Catherine Zeta-Jones.
Special features include: deleted scenes; “The Red 2 Experience”; and gag reel. (Lionsgate Home Entertainment)
The Stranger (Blu-ray)
Untitled
Olive Films
Franz Kindler (Orson Welles) is a Nazi on the run who, posing as Professor Charles Rankin, insinuates himself into the town of Harper, Connecticut. Unbeknownst to Mary Longstreet (Loretta Young), now married to Kindler, her husband’s past is quickly catching up with him when Mr. Wilson (Edward G. Robinson) of the United Nations War Crimes Commission closes in on the sleepy hamlet.
This film appears early in Welles’ directorial career, yet his fourth picture displays no signs of immaturity or unsureness. He relies on standard noir tropes to tell the story, but in his hands they are fetching and fresh. There’s little attempt to conceal Kindler’s identity as the war criminal; instead the story focuses on his dastardly behaviour stateside. His character is often seen in shadow or moving in the dark, which is even more striking in the context of Russell Metty’s black & white photography. Determined to bring the subject home, Welles determined to include footage of actual Nazi atrocities from a newsreel, which is used to try to convince Mary of her husband’s guilt.
Special features include: commentary with Nora Fiore; “The Stranger: Murderers Among Us,” essay by Dr. Jennifer Lynde Barker; and trailer. (Olive Films)
The Wedding Banquet (Blu-ray)
Untitled
Olive Films
Gay couple Wai-Tung (Winston Chao) and Simon (Mitchell Lichtenstein) are happily cohabitating in New York when word comes from Wai-Tung’s parents, who, tired of waiting for their son to marry and give them grandchildren, have hired a dating service to get him closer to the altar. Wai-Tung and Simon hatch a plot that’ll see Wai-Tung married to Wei-Wei (May Chin), an acquaintance in need of her green card. Problem solved. That is, until Wai-Tung’s parents announce a visit and insist that a customary wedding banquet is given to atone for the less-than-spectacular city hall marriage ceremony. And there’s another surprise. Could there soon be the pitter patter of little feet?
Co-writer/director Ang Lee’s script for this film is reflective of a classic screwball comedy in which one of the characters’ hare-brained schemes goes terribly awry. In spite of being half a world away, Wai-Tung is afraid to tell his parents he’s gay and in a long-term, happy relationship. Instead, he creates impossible standards for his dream woman to buy more time. His parents are very traditional and deeply desire grandchildren, but Wai-Tung may not give them the credit they deserve. The narrative is basically divided in two halves, which are separated by the wedding. The first half is more humorous as everyone scrambles to maintain the charade for Wai-Tung’s parents and immigration, while the second half deals with the seriousness of the situation they’ve created and its real consequences. The acting by everyone is superb, combining to create an excellent depiction of the lengths people will go to to please their loved ones.
Special features include: “A Forbidden Passion”; and trailer. (Olive Films)
More about Designated Survivor, Band aid, marvel's daredevil, Marvel's Jessica Jones, Chronically Metropolitan
 
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